SketchUp and Photoshop: Part 1 – Linking to Photoshop, Editing Textures

This pretty image looks like it came from a high-end rendering application, right? Actually it’s a rendering straight out of SketchUp, with some assistance from Photoshop.
SketchUp with Photoshop Image D
Working with images is an essential part of SketchUp’s workflow. And you’re going to find yourself now and then wanting to make changes to images, by using a graphic editor such as (but certainly not limited to!) Photoshop. But many people don’t realize that you can edit images from within SketchUp, meaning you don’t have to re-import edited images each time you make a change.
No, this doesn’t mean you can edit images IN SketchUp. But you can have SketchUp open an image in your preferred editor. After you make and save your changes, the edited image appears in SketchUp. This feature is a huge time saver, especially if you’re applying textures with an eye toward rendering. You gain greater control over the edits and appearance of your textures.
This post will cover these simple steps you’ll need for this process:
  • Linking SketchUp to Photoshop or another graphic editor
  • Editing textures and images
Part 2 of this two-part series will cover how to create high-resolution aerial (Google Earth) images in SketchUp, which is another part of my daily 3D modeling work process.
I’m assuming that Photoshop is what most people are using – it’s an industry standard. If you something different, just substitute your application where you see references to Photoshop.
And if you don’t have a graphic editor installed, beyond the free (and thin) programs provided by Microsoft or Apple, try Gimp or Inkscape, both of which are free.

Linking SketchUp to Photoshop

Open SketchUp’s Preferences window (PC: found in the Windows menu, Mac: found in the SketchUp menu) and open the Applications page. Click the Choose button, and find where Photoshop is installed.
That’s all you need to do. So the first step is easy.

Editing SketchUp Images in Photoshop

This part is also easy. Find a face that’s painted with the image you want to edit. Right-click on the image and choose Texture / Edit Texture Image.
Or you can use the Edit texture image button, found on the Edit tab of the Materials window.
This opens the image in Photoshop, or whatever application you linked in Part 1. Perform whatever edits you need – adjust color, contrast, hue, scale, rotation etc. This can be a great way to “bold up” a texture. You can also edit an image to make it less photo-realistic, which is nice if you’re using NPR (non-photorealistic) SketchUp styles like sketchy edges. Here I’m applying a Photoshop colored-pencil filter to do just that:
003 Edit image in PS - Filters
Here’s how the grass looks with its colored pencil filter:
Once you complete your edits, simply save the image in Photoshop (use File / Save, not Save As). When you return to SketchUp, your image will have your changes. Here’s my NPR, colored-pencil lawn:
06 Applied to model
Don’t like the image’s new look? Use SketchUp’s Undo tool to go back to the way the image was before, and you can try editing it again.
Here’s how this model looks after adjusting several more textures:
07 Image B
And here’s an animated shadow study of this model:

You can also use your graphic editor to clean up an image. For example, many building models in the 3D Warehouse are textured with photos, and many of these photos are distorted or cluttered. Photoshop tools such as Clone StampErase, and Masking Area are great for tasks like these. For those who continue on with exporting to other rendering applications, Photoshop also has tools for creating bump
map images and gradients.
One Important Rule: You can add layers to the texture while editing it in Photoshop, but you must use the Flatten tool before saving the texture back to SketchUp. Otherwise the link will be broken and the texture not updated in the SketchUp model.
If you use Google Earth imagery in your models, stay tuned for Part 2 in this series, in which I’ll discuss how to create high-resolution aerial images in SketchUp from imported Google Earth maps.

About Daniel Tal

Daniel Tal, ASLA, is a professional speaker and a registered landscape architect with over 17 years of experience. He is a 3D modeling and visualization expert, has authored two books with Wiley and Sons: SketchUp for Site Design and Rendering in SketchUp and is the tech-editor at large for Landscape Architecture Magazine. Tal runs a 3D modeling and visualization studio for Stanley Consultants, a 1,000 person multi-disciplinary engineering firm. Read more about Daniel.



  1. Thank you so much Daniel for sharing this so much helpful tutorial. Great!


  2. I have needed Editing Textures and I got from it. Thank you


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